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Gary Hart (born Gary Warren Hartpence, November 28, 1936) is an Americanmarker politician, lawyer, author, professor and commentator. He formerly served as a Democratic Senator representing Coloradomarker (1975–1987), and ran in the U.S. presidential election in 1984 and again in 1988, when he was considered a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination until various news organizations reported that he was having an extramarital affair. Since retiring from the Senate, he has emerged as a consultant on national security, and continues to speak on a wide range of issues, including the environment and homeland security. In 2001, he earned a doctorate in politics from Oxfordmarker. In 2006, Hart accepted an endowed professorship at the University of Colorado at Denver. He also serves as Chairman for Council for a Livable World. He has written or co-authored numerous books and articles, including four novels, two under the pen name John Blackthorn.

Early life and education

Hart was born in Ottawa, Kansasmarker to Nina Pritchard and Carl Riley Hartpence, a farm equipment salesman. He changed his last name to "Hart" in 1961.

He attended Bethany Nazarene Collegemarker in Bethany, Oklahomamarker, graduating in 1958. He graduated from Yale Divinity School in 1961 and Yale Law School in 1964.

Early legal career

Hart became an attorney for the United States Department of Justicemarker from 1964 to 1965, and was admitted to the Coloradomarker and District of Columbiamarker bars in 1965. He was special assistant to the solicitor of the United States Department of the Interiormarker from 1965 to 1967.

He then entered private law practice in Denver, Coloradomarker on and off over the next seven years.

George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign

Hart occasionally calls himself the inventor of the Iowa caucuses. Following the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicagomarker, U.S. Senator George McGovern of South Dakotamarker co-chaired a commission that revised the Democratic presidential nomination structure, weakening the influence of such old-style party bosses as Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, who were once able to hand pick national convention delegates and dictate the way they voted. The new rules made caucuses a process in which relative newcomers could participate without paying dues to established party organizations.

In the 1972 election, McGovern named Hart his campaign manager. Along with Rick Stearns, an expert on the new system, they decided on a strategy to focus on the newly important Iowa caucuses. They predicted that a strong showing in Iowa would give the campaign momentum that would propel them toward the nomination and weaken Muskie. Indeed, the strategy worked β€” setting a trend of focusing on the Iowa caucuses that has continued to this day β€” and the McGovern campaign took advantage of the Iowa results to win the nomination. However, Hart could not steer McGovern to the presidency. In the general election, McGovern carried only Massachusettsmarker and the District of Columbiamarker.

United States Senator

In 1974, Hart ran for the United States Senate, challenging two-term incumbent Republican Peter Dominick. Hart was aided by the state's trend towards Democrats during the early 1970's, as well as Dominick's continued support for the unpopular President Richard Nixon and concerns about the Senator's age and health. In the general election, Hart won by a wide margin (57.2% to Dominick's 39.5%) and was immediately labeled as a rising star. He got a seat on the Armed Services Committee and was an early supporter of reforming the bidding for military contracts, and also was an advocate the military using smaller, more mobile weapons and equipment, as opposed to the traditional large scale items. He also served on the Environment and Public Work Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In 1980 he sought a second term. In something of a surprise, his Republican opponent was Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan. Hart distanced himself from President Jimmy Carter, who was highly unpopular in Colorado, but Buchanan ran a spirited campaign and nearly won. Hart survived the Republican landslide that year by a 51% to 49% margin.

1984 presidential campaign

In February 1983, during his second term, Hart announced his candidacy for president in the 1984 presidential election. At the time of his announcement, Hart was a little-known Senator and barely received above one percent in the polls against better-known candidates such as Walter Mondale, John Glenn, and Jesse Jackson. To counter this situation, Hart started campaigning early in New Hampshiremarker, making a then-unprecedented canvassing tour in late September, months before the primary. This strategy attracted national media attention to his campaign, and by late 1983, he had risen moderately in the polls to the middle of the field, mostly at the expense of the sinking candidacies of Glenn and Alan Cranston. Mondale won the Iowa caucus in late January, but Hart polled a respectable 16 percent. Two weeks later, in the New Hampshire primary, he shocked much of the party establishment and the media by defeating Mondale by 10 percentage points. Hart instantly became the main challenger to Mondale for the nomination, and appeared to have the momentum on his side.

However, Hart's campaign could not overcome Mondale's financial and organizational advantages, especially among labor union leaders in the Midwest and industrial Northeast. Hart was chronically in debt, to a final count of $4.75 million. In states like Illinoismarker, where delegates were elected directly by primary voters, Hart often had incomplete delegate slates. Hart's ideas were criticized as too vague and centrist by many Democrats. Shortly after he became the new frontrunner, it was revealed that Hart had changed his last name, had often listed 1937 instead of 1936 as his birth date, and had changed his signature several times. This, along with two separations from his wife, Lee, caused some to question Hart's "flake factor." Nonetheless, he and his wife have remained married for 50 years.

The two men swapped victories in the primaries, with Hart getting exposure as a candidate with "new ideas" and Mondale rallying the party establishment to his side. The two men fought to a draw in the Super Tuesday, with Hart winning states in the West, Floridamarker, and New Englandmarker. Mondale fought back and began ridiculing Hart's campaign platform. The most famous television moment of the campaign was during a debate when he mocked Hart's "new ideas" by quoting a line from a popular Wendy's television commercial at the time: "Where's the beef?". Hart's campaign could not effectively counter this remark, and when he ran negative TV commercials against Mondale in the Illinoismarker primary, his appeal as a new kind of Democrat never entirely recovered. Hart lost the New Yorkmarker and Pennsylvaniamarker primaries, but won those of Ohiomarker and Indianamarker.

Mondale gradually pulled away from Hart in the delegate count, but the race was not decided until June, on "Super Tuesday III". Decided that day were delegates from five states: South Dakotamarker, New Mexicomarker, West Virginiamarker, Californiamarker and New Jerseymarker. The proportional nature of delegate selection meant that Mondale was likely to obtain enough delegates on that day to secure the stated support of an overall majority of delegates, and hence the nomination, no matter who actually "won" the states contested. However, Hart maintained that unpledged superdelegates that had previously claimed support for Mondale would shift to his side if he swept the Super Tuesday III primary. Once again, Hart committed a faux pas, insulting New Jersey shortly before the primary day. Campaigning in California, he remarked that while the "bad news" was that he and his wife Lee had to campaign separately, "[t]he good news for her is that she campaigns in California while I campaign in New Jersey." Compounding the problem, when his wife interjected that she "got to hold a koala bear," Hart replied that "I won't tell you what I got to hold: samples from a toxic waste dump." While Hart won California, he lost New Jersey after leading in polls by as much as 15 points.

By the time the final primaries concluded, Mondale had a considerable lead in total delegates, though he was 40 delegates short of clinching victory. Superdelegates voted overwhelmingly for Mondale at the Democratic National Convention in San Franciscomarker on July 16, making him the presidential nominee. Hart, already aware that the nomination was all but Mondale's after the final primaries, lobbied for the Vice Presidential slot on the ticket, claiming that he would do better than Mondale against President Ronald Reagan (an argument undercut by a June 1984 Gallup poll that showed both men nine points behind the president). While Hart was given serious consideration, Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro instead.

Nonetheless, this race for the nomination was the closest in two generations, and it has been the most recent occasion that a major party presidential nomination has gone all the way to the convention. Mondale was later defeated in a landslide by the incumbent Reagan, winning only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia. Many felt that Hart and other similar candidates, younger and more independent-minded, represented the future of the party.

1988 presidential campaign and the Donna Rice affair

Hart declined to run for re-election to the Senate, leaving office when his second term expired with the intent of running for president again. In January 1987, he was the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in the 1988 election.
Hart officially declared his candidacy on April 13, 1987. Rumors began circulating nearly immediately that Hart was having an extramarital affair. In an interview that appeared in the New York Times on May 3, 1987, Hart responded to the rumors by daring the press corps: "Follow me around. I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored." The Miami Herald had been investigating Hart's alleged womanizing for weeks before the "dare" appeared in the New York Times. Two reporters from the Miami Herald had staked out his residence and observed a young woman leaving Hart's Washington, D.C.marker, townhouse on the evening of May 2. The Herald published the story on May 3, the same day Hart's dare appeared in print, and the scandal spread rapidly through the national media. Hart and his allies attacked the Herald for rushing the story into print, claiming that it had unfairly judged the situation without finding out the facts. Hart said that the reporters had not watched both entrances to his home and could not have seen when the young woman entered and left the building. The Miami Herald reporter had flown to Washington, D.C. on the same flight as the woman, identified as Donna Rice. Hart was overwhelmed with questions regarding his views on marital infidelity. His wife, Lee, supported his position that the relationship with the young woman was innocent. A poll of voters in New Hampshiremarker for the New Hampshire Primary showed that Hart's support had dropped in half, from 32% to 17%, placing him suddenly ten points behind Massachusettsmarker governor Michael Dukakis.

On May 5, the Herald received a further tip that Hart had spent a night in Biminimarker on a yacht called the Monkey Business with a woman who was not his wife. The Herald obtained a photograph of Hart sitting on a dock wearing a Monkey Business T-shirt, with then-29-year-old model Donna Rice, sitting on his lap. The photograph was then published in the National Enquirer. On May 8, 1987, a week after the story broke, Hart dropped out of the race. At a press conference, he lashed out at the media, saying "I said that I bend, but I don't break, and believe me, I'm not broken." A Gallup Poll found that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the U.S. respondents it surveyed thought the media treatment of Hart was "unfair." A little over half (53 percent) responded that marital infidelity had little to do with a president's ability to govern.

Not everyone was impressed with Hart's diatribe against the press. Television writer Paul Slansky noted that Hart had tried to deflect blame from himself for his downfall to the media, and that he offered no apology to betrayed supporters who now suddenly had to find other candidates to back. To many observers, the press conference was redolent of Richard Nixon's "Last Press Conference" of November 7, 1962, in which Nixon blamed the media for his loss in the 1962 California gubernatorial election. Hart, in fact, received a letter from Nixon himself commending him for "handling a very difficult situation uncommonly well" .

Former National Security Council member Roger Morris suggests in his book Partners in Power, the Clintons and Their America that the alleged Hart-Rice sex scandal was really an intelligence operation to deny Hart the presidency. Hart's biggest offense, according to Morris, was his advocacy of "further investigation and exposure of the alliance between the mob and the US intelligence community."The Miami Herald's account of how it researched and produced the Gary Hart-Donna Rice story was said to be closely examined by investigative reporters from the national media after allegations were made that the story may have been initiated by conspirators to eliminate Hart as a viable candidate. Since then, no story has ever been published by the national media challenging The Herald's account of how one of Ms Rice's own girl friends called the paper with the original tip that Rice was planning to meet with Hart at his home in Washington.According to The Herald, after the original tip, no one outside The Herald's reporting team influenced the surveillance and reporting that produced the story.

In December 1987, Hart returned to the race, declaring "Let's let the people decide!" He competed in the New Hampshire primary and received 4,888 votes, approximately four percent. After the Super Tuesday contests on March 8, he withdrew from the campaign a second time.

Later career

After his Senate service and presidential races, Hart resumed his law practice. He remained moderately active in politics, serving on the bipartisan National Commission on Terrorism, also known as the Hart-Rudman Commission, commissioned on behalf of Bill Clinton in 1998 to study U.S. homeland security. The commission issued several findings calling for broad changes to security policy, but many were not implemented until after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He earned a D.Phil. in politics from the University of Oxfordmarker in 2001, where he was a member of St Antony's Collegemarker.

In late 2002, urged by former Oxford classmates, Hart began testing the waters for another run for the presidency, launching a website at and a related speaking tour to gauge reactions from the public. He started his own blog in the spring of 2003, the first prospective presidential candidate to do so. After a few months of speaking, Hart decided not to run for president and instead endorsed Democrat John Kerry. According to an October 23, 2004 National Journal article and later reports in the Washington Post, Hart was mentioned as a probable Cabinet appointment if Kerry won the presidency. He was considered a top candidate for either Director of National Intelligence, Secretary of Homeland Security, or Secretary of Defense.

Since May 2005 he has been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. It was announced in January 2006 that Hart will hold an endowed professorship at the University of Colorado. He is the author of James Monroe, part of the Times Books series on American presidents, ISBN 0-8050-6960-7, published in October 2005. Hart is an Honorary Fellow of the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublinmarker. He is an Advisory Board member for the Partnership for a Secure America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recreating the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy.

In September 2007, The Huffington Post published Hart's letter, "Unsolicited Advice to the Government of Iran", in which he stated that "Provocation is no longer required to take America to war" and warns Iranmarker that "for the next sixteen months or so, you should not only not take provocative actions, you should not seem to be doing so." He went on to suggest that the Bush-Cheney administration was waiting for an opportunity to attack Iran ("Don't give a certain vice president we know the justification he is seeking to attack your country.")

Hart linked American energy policy with national security in an essay published in 5280, the Denvermarker city magazine, in November 2007. Hart wrote, "In fact, we do have an energy policy: It’s to continue to import more than half our oil and sacrifice American lives so we can drive our Humvees. This is our current policy, and it is massively immoral." Hart currently sits on the board of directors for the Energy Literacy Advocates. He founded the American Security Project in 2007 and he started a new blog, " Matters of Principle", in 2009. He and his wife, Lee, are residents of Kittredge, Coloradomarker. He had also appeared as himself on an episode of Cheers (episode 425; "Strange Bedfellows part 2").


  • Under The Eagle's Wing: A National Security Strategy of the United States for 2009 (Speaker's Corner, 2008);
  • The Courage of Our Convictions: A Manifesto for Democrats by Gary Hart (Time Books/Henry Holt, 2006);
  • The Shield and The Cloak: The Security of the Commons (Oxford University Press, 2006);
  • God and Caesar in America: an essay on religion and politics (Fulcrum Books, 2005);
  • The Presidency of James Monroe, in the American Presidency series edited by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (Time Books/Henry Holt, 2005);
  • The Fourth Power: a new grand strategy for the United States in the 21st century (Oxford University Press, 2004);
  • Restoration of the Republic: the Jeffersonian Ideal in 21st Century America (2002), for which he received a D. Phil. degree from Oxford University;
  • The Minuteman: Restoring an Army of the People (1998);
  • The Patriot: An Exhortation to Liberate America from the Barbarians (1996);
  • The Good Fight: The Education of an American Reformer (a New York Times Notable Book) (1995);
  • Russia Shakes the World: The Second Russian Revolution (1991);
  • America Can Win: The Case for Military Reform (1985);
  • A New Democracy : new approaches to the challenges of the 1980s (1983);
  • Right from the Start: A Chronicle of the McGovern Campaign (1973);

Four novels:
  • I, Che Guevara (2000) (under the pseudonym John Blackthorn)
  • Sins of the Fathers (1999) (under the pseudonym John Blackthorn)
  • The Strategies of Zeus (1985)
  • The Double Man (with former Senator and Secretary of Defense William Cohen, 1984)

In January 2000, Hart revealed that he is the political thriller writer John Blackthorn, whose books include Sins of the Fathers and I, Che Guevara.

Electoral history

Colorado United States Senate election, 1974 (Democratic primary):

Colorado United States Senate election, 1974

Colorado United States Senate election, 1980:

1984 Democratic presidential primaries:

1984 Democratic National Convention:

1988 Democratic presidential primaries:

1988 Democratic National Convention:

See also


  1. Ancestry of Gary Hart
  2. Lindsay, Robert "Convention Sideline: Raising Money", New York Times, July 21, 1984, pg. 11
  3. YouTube - Gary Hart 1984 Television Ads
  4. Dionne, E.J. jr., "Poll Gives Hart and Bush Clear Leads for Nominations", New York Times, January 25, 1987, pg. 18
  5. Toner, Robin, "Hart, Stressing Ideals, Formally Enters the 1988 Race; 'It's an issue of recapturing our basic principles, beliefs and values.' New York Times, April 14, 1987. pg. A16
  6. Dionne, E.J. Jr. "The Elusive Front-Runner; GARY HART" New York Times, May 3, 1987, pg. SM28
  7. Dionne, E.J. Jr. "Paper and Hart in Dispute Over Article", New York Times, May 4, 1987, pg. A16
  8. Smithsonian Magazine | People & Places | "Those Aren't Rumors"
  9. "Gary Hart, Donna Rice, and the Real Monkey Business," David Martin, April 2, 2000
  10. "Gary Hart comes out: The former Senator and ex-presidential candidate reveals that he's thriller writer John Blackthorn" by Andrew Ferguson, January 17, 2000, CNN
  11. Our Campaigns - CO US Senate - D Primary Race - Sep 10, 1974
  12. Our Campaigns - CO US Senate Race - Nov 5, 1974
  13. Our Campaigns - CO US Senate Race - Nov 4, 1980
  14. Our Campaigns - US President - D Primaries Race - Feb 20, 1984
  15. Our Campaigns - US President - D Convention Race - Jul 16, 1984
  16. Our Campaigns - US President - D Primaries Race - Feb 1, 1988
  17. Our Campaigns - US President - D Convention Race - Jul 18, 1988
  • Clinton, Bill (2005). My Life. Vintage. ISBN 1-4000-3003-X.

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